by David A. Osage, P.E., ASME Fellow / Philip A. Henry, P.E. / Jul 17, 2011

Many process plants will continue to operate pressurized equipment well beyond its intended design life. To ensure that the equipment operates safely and reliably requires adoption of an equipment Life-Cycle Management (LCM) process. During equipment design the LCM process requires identification of potential damage mechanisms, and a design that resists or mitigates the damage. For equipment that has been put into operation the LCM process continues with the use of prescriptive or Risk-Based inspection. An evaluation of the in-service inspection results reveals whether any anticipated (i.e., was considered in the initial design) or unanticipated damage has occurred. If the damage is anticipated and within the design limits, the equipment is returned to operation for a period of time that considers the equipment remaining life, with a new inspection at the end of the operational period. If unanticipated damage is discovered the LCM process requires identification of the damage mechanism and a subsequent Fitness-For-Service assessment to facilitate a decision to run as is, or to rerate, repair, or to replace the damaged components. To effectively implement the LCM approach, codes and standards must exist that address each aspect of the process. In addition, ensuring that similar analysis techniques are employed at the time of construction and when conducting in-service assessments requires coordination of the technology integration in these codes and standards. An overview of API, ASME, and other codes and standards is provided together with a discussion of the efforts to integrate technology to support the LCM process.

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